A Note from 826 National CEO Gerald Richards | Nerdymates Blog

826 centers offer a variety of inventive programs that provide under-resourced students, ages 6-18, with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills. How do we do it?

Mr. Richards has a BA in Film Studies from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Last year our eight centers worked with more than 31,000 students with the help of 5,000 volunteers. Our centers are places of learning and places of fun. Seldom do we hear those two words in the same sentence, however, with 826 those words are used together all the time. At 826 we aim to do the same for young people across the country. Our hope is to inspire our nation’s youth to become better writers and encourage volunteers to spend time supporting the young people in their community.

Below, please find a note from 826 National CEO, Gerald Richards, about the organization. And join us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn to support writing!

If you live in one of the cities where there is an 826 National chapter—San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Seattle, why not try these Ann Arbor/Detroit, Chicago, or Boston—you may have already walked by one of our centers without knowing it. You may have wondered aloud why there’s a superhero store selling capes in Park Slope or spy supplies being sold in Wicker Park or Bigfoot research gear being sold in Boston. Our whimsically-themed storefronts act as gateways to the neighborhood and entice students into a space where they can readily get help with their homework or spend time writing and get help from adult volunteers willing to lend a hand.

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Nerdymates is currently participating in a national competition sponsored by the American Business Journals measuring social media engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. We are competing in the “Large” category due to the size of our social network. The winner of the #SocialMadness competition will have the opportunity to designate a charity to receive a $10,000 donation.

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Step into one of our centers and you may find students writing short stories about the importance of food in their lives, crafting a love poem to a pet, or the script to a zombie superhero movie. Our goal is to get kids to have fun, cultivate a love of writing and in the process build their confidence and self-esteem. All of this is done by bringing volunteers from the community in to work with our students 1 to 1—and sometimes 2 to 1. We understand the importance of community involvement in helping our students succeed.

We’ve chosen to donate the prize money (should we be lucky enough to win the contest!) to an awesome local organization called 826 National. 826 National offers a variety of inventive programs that provide under-resourced students, ages 6-18, with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills.

Gerald Richards is the Chief Executive Officer of 826 National. With twenty years of management and development experience at national nonprofit organizations, including the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship where he served as the Executive Director of the Bay Area office, Gerald is a respected trainer and sought after speaker on topics of youth and education access.

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I have always loved to write. I think it’s the unbridled power of creation that did it for me. The ideas are yours, the places they take you are of your own making, the people you imagine are people you want to know (or wish you knew), and the world that springs into life is the one you create. That world may last one page, or one thousand, but it is forever yours. The real joy is in the sense of accomplishment and sense of pride when you can say “I wrote this.” That’s a part of the magic of the 826 National network of creative writing and after-school tutoring centers—that creativity and sense of pride that every student involved with our programs feels.

It’s always a pleasure to encounter another organization that loves writing and language like we do. We are excited that Nerdymates is helping to foster that in a world where LOL and SYL seem to be the norm, and emoticons replace writing how we really feel. We hope you’ll join us in that love, check out an 826 National center in a city near you and hopefully volunteer. You’ll be glad you did and have fun doing good.

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